An easy to make casserole with the great taste
of Sicilian Rice Balls when I don’t have time to make traditional Arancini.
1 LB GROUND BEEF
3 CUPS ARBORIO RICE
2 EGGS – beaten
1 TB OLIVE OIL
3 CUPS TOMATO SAUCE – or more as needed
1 CUP PEAS – frozen, allow to defrost just enough to spread
1 ½ CUPS FRESH MOZZARELLA – shredded
¼ CUP PECORINO ROMANO CHEESE – freshly grated
1 TABLESPOON ONION – minced
SALT – to taste
PINCH OF GROUND CINNAMON – optional
1 TSP GARLIC POWDER – or to taste
FRESHLY GROUND BLACK PEPPER – to taste
PREHEAT OVEN TO 400º
Coat bottom and sides of a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray or grease.
Cook rice according to package directions and set aside to cool.
Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add ground beef and sauté while breaking up the meat for a few minutes. Add the minced onion, garlic powder, salt and pepper and mix until well combined. Stir in the peas, trying not to mash them. Add 1 cup of sauce and stir in with the cinnamon, if using, while cooking until the meat is totally cooked. Remove the pan from the heat.
In a large mixing bowl, combine rice with 2 eggs that have been lightly beaten, half of the freshly grated cheese and 2 cups of sauce. Pour half of the mixture into the greased baking dish carefully spreading the rice out to all the edges. Add the meat mixture on top of the rice spreading out evenly to all the edges. Bake for 20 minutes.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese and the shredded mozzarella. Return to oven and bake for an additional 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes. To serve, cut into squares and, if desired, top each with additional sauce.